St Katherine
west end from NE west end west end from SE

  The west end of this little church is approached through two gate posts directly from the main road.

The picture below shows detail of the rather ornate and slightly top-heavy clock.

detail of clock


Now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, services are still held about three or four times a year, but no more as it is a redundant church, the benefice being united with that of the neighbouring village of Stadhampton.

This is an unspoiled and unaltered Georgian chapel built in 1762. It was beloved of John Betjeman, who penned the following verses in its honour:

Verses turned in aid of A Public Subscription (1952)
towards the restoration of the Church of St Katherine,
Chiselhampton, Oxon.
Across the wet November night
The church is bright with candlelight
And waiting Evensong.
A single bell with plaintive strokes
Pleads louder than the stirring oaks
The leafless lanes along.
It calls the choirboys from their tea
And villagers, the two or three,
Damp down the kitchen fire,
Let out the cat, and up the lane
Go paddling through the gentle rain
Of misty Oxfordshire.
How warm the many candles shine
On Samuel Dowbiggin's design
For this interior neat,
These high box pews of Georgian days
Which screen us from the public gaze
When we make answer meet.
How gracefully their shadow falls
On bold pilasters down the walls
And on the pulpit high.
The chandeliers would twinkle gold
As pre-Tractarian sermons roll'd
Doctrinal, sound and dry.
From that west gallery no doubt
The viol and serpent tooted out
The Tallis tune to Ken,
And firmly at the end of prayers
The clerk below the pulpit stairs
Would thunder out "Amen".
But every wand'ring thought will cease
Before the noble altarpiece
With carven swags array'd,
For there in letters all may read
The Lord's Commandments, Prayer and Creed,
Are decently display'd.
On country mornings sharp and clear
The penitent in faith draw near
And kneeling here below
Partake the Heavenly Banquet spread
Of Sacramental Wine and Bread
And Jesus' presence know.
And must that plaintive bell in vain
Plead loud along the dripping lane?
And must the building fall?
Not while we love the Church and live
And of our charity will give
Our much, our more, our all.
John Betjeman

The gallery is approached up a steep and narrow staircase immediately inside the door at the west end of the church. What quire there might have been who used this gallery we do not know, nor where John Betjeman obtained his references from, but it is reasonable to suppose that there was such a quire. The neighbouring village of Marsh Baldon did have a quire, and one of the manuscripts they used has been preserved.

three-decker pulpit

Two views of the three-decker pulpit - the Clerk would have sat at the extremely small desk in the adjoining pew to the left of the pulpit.  This is a seventeenth century pulpit, being a survivor from an older church on the same site.

the altar enclosure

reading the lesson

Reading the lesson at a west gallery Evensong on 23rd September 2001, Amelia Murphy from the west gallery quire Sussex Harmony. Members of the Oxford west gallery quire Oxford Occasionals were augmented for the day by members from a number of other similar quires* in the south of England.
* For details of west gallery quires, please link here to the West Gallery Music Association web site
details of pews

Details of the pews. The larger pew at the front was probably for the squire who lived in the adjoining Manor house, now called Chiselhampton House. This was designed by a London architect, Lancelot Dowbiggin, who possibly also may have had a hand in the design of the church.  (This point has not been proved.)


The large pew immediately under the pulpit was eventually taken over by the Harmonium, which no doubt replaced the village band as provider of music in church



The church lies to the north of the village, and about 500 yards to the north of the Coach and Horses Inn, on the left of the busy B 480 road about five miles south east of Oxford. The easiest way of obtaining access during opening hours is to ask anyone serving behind the bar to borrow the (large) key, otherwise access is obtainable through the Vicar or Churchwardens who live in the neighbouring village of Stadhampton.

Photographs: ©  2001 Edwin Macadam

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This site has been constructed by, and remains the copyright of, its authors,
Edwin and Sheila Macadam,

Shelwin, 30, Eynsham Road, Botley,
Oxford OX2 9BP
July 2001 -